Servicing clients locally? Here’s how you should play the Google game

Google's search results for local business are really geared around Google Adwords and the Google Maps listings. Here's what you need to be focused on

Google has two prime directives:

  1. Keep themselves relevant
  2. Make money

For this reason, Google is constantly updating not just their search algorithm, but also updating the way results are displayed. As long as results stay relevant and searchers can easily find what they are after, then everything is golden and the money will continue to roll in for them.

So just what does this mean to businesses, particularly location-based businesses? What do you need to be doing to stay relevant?

Some things have not changed, but others have. Take a look at what people are seeing for a local service like plumbing…

Plumber local search results

What you are seeing are search terms, where even if you are ranked 1 for a search term in organic search results, you are pushed so far down the page by Google Adwords and Google local business listings that you may not even get a look in.

It becomes obvious that, for certain searches, the smart move is to set up a Google Adwords campaign and optimise your Google local business listing to appear in maps results.

So in the new single column Google search results, (notice no ads on the right) here’s what you need to focus on.

1. Keyword Research

Let’s be honest, we’ve all been guilty of using industry jargon at one point or another with a client. In person you can see the blank expression when they don’t understand, but it is worse basing a search strategy around industry jargon…the people who want to be finding you in Google are just not searching for the phrases you use.

Your search strategy needs to be based around what people are searching for. The most readily available options are:

Google Keyword Planner

Available at https://adwords.google.com.au/KeywordPlanner, this Google Adwords tool can be used to show the volume of searches for particular search queries, as well as Google Adwords competition (not to be confused with competition for organic search).

Google Auto Suggest

In real time as you type in the Google search bar, you will see Google provides options for what it thinks you may be looking for. The suggestions it provides are all based on what other people have searched for in Google. This is great for identifying things that you would never have thought about before.

The suggestions you are seeing are based on the most up-to-date searches, so it is a great opportunity for you to target trending topics.

2. Google Adwords

If you’ve been in business, you are going to hear other business owners telling their stories about how they once tried using Google Adwords and it did not work.

If you have a proper strategy for your Google Adwords then it is a great way to build consistent workflow into your business. Once you have your Google Adwords campaigns in place and they are delivering a positive return on investment, then you are ready to scale your lead generation.

Identify buyer search queries

How many times have you researched something on Google with no intent of buying? The truth is that many people are just researching and when you are applying a cost-per-click strategy such as Google Adwords, you are wanting to target buyers to avoid wasting your advertising budget.

Straight off the bat it may be difficult to segment some search queries based on buyer intent, but if you are properly tracking your Adwords campaigns you will be able to identify the search queries that are not converting and remove them.

Create dedicated landing pages

Remember those people that told you Google Adwords don’t work? You can almost guarantee they were sending all of their Adwords traffic direct to their home page.

The great thing about Adwords is that you know exactly what people are after when they click on your ads, so why wouldn’t you send them to a page that directly addresses their needs. If they are after new tyres for a car, don’t send them to your home page where you talk about your service as a mechanic.

With all of your competitors a simple click away, you want to be telling people you know exactly what they need, you have it, you’re the best choice and the next step is easy.

Track Conversions

With every click, your money is being spent. Sure you need to be focused on the business that the traffic is generating, but that does not mean you should be stupid about the way money is being spent…and if you aren’t tracking it, how can you tell if you are spending money effectively.

The great thing is that when you have your Google Adwords and Google Analytics connected there are all sorts of things you can track. From simple conversions on the landing page (forms completed and phone calls made) through to identifying different pages users are visiting and re-market after they leave your website (they see your ads when they visit other websites).

Getting a positive ROI

As you build up your data, you will be able to work out the cost of traffic, the cost of a lead and, combining this with your business’ historical data on conversion of lead to buyer and average lifetime value of a customer, you will be able to work out how much each click is worth to you.

If you know how much each click is worth to you, that’s then when you can determine what you are willing to pay for a click that will generate a positive return on investment…and once you can generate a positive ROI, that’s the time to scale your Adwords campaign to the extent that your business can handle the extra leads.

3. Local SEO – Google My Business Listing

Your “Google My Business” listing is free. It is just waiting for you to add your business or claim it (often Google will have already created it for you based on information available in other websites). Once you have done this, Google sends you a postcard with a code to verify that you are the representative of a legitimate business.

Google will tell you how to fill out the listing, even giving you a percentage complete score. Make sure to have a description and images for your business available (if not you can go back and edit later).

Two of the things that Google places a big emphasis on are both ways after substantiating you as a legitimate business, customer reviews and the same business details on other websites. This means the best immediate investment of time is to solicit existing happy customers for reviews (do not offer incentives as Google does not like this) and to list your business in local business directories like TrueLocal.com.au using exactly the same business name, address and phone number.

4. Traditional SEO

You still need to focus on getting your traditional SEO right. It will have some impact on your local listings, but you also need to consider that not all search terms will return Google search results that contain Google Adwords and maps results.

Take the time to make sure your on page SEO is right:

  • Every page has a unique title tag
  • Your meta descriptions are click worthy
  • You are using one H1 tag per page (typically the main heading) that contains your keywords
  • H2 and H3 tags for related keywords
  • Writing for the reader, not search engines (this is the best way to make sure you are not keyword stuffing in such a way that you will be penalised)
  • Linking where relevant to other pages on your site
  • Linking to authority websites to support your content (it’s okay to not be the ultimate authority on everything – of course, you would not be linking to direct competitors)
  • Add alt tags to your images to help Google know what the images are.
  • Where you can, get others to link to your content

Is this something you need to worry about?

In the Connected Small Business report by Deloitte Access Economics, they found the businesses with the highest levels of digital engagement are:

  • 2x more likely to be growing revenue
  • Earn 2x more revenue per employee
  • 4x more likely to be hiring

When businesses around you are taking advantage of new strategies and winning new business, it means less scraps at the table for you.

Whether you choose to do this yourself, or have someone do it for you, it is not a matter of when you should do it, it is a matter of how much are you missing out on every day that you delay?

So take the step and claim your Google My Business listing and look at setting up a Google Adwords campaign, and if you need assistance, of course we would be only to happy to help.

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